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Best of NAMA 2020

By Greg Henderson,

A year after the pandemic disrupted the hog industry and left many producers facing financial ruin, operators are now experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime rally. Farrow-to-finish margins climbed another $7 per head last week to $105, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Margins are $30 higher than a month ago. A year ago pork producers lost an average of $43 per head.

A year ago some market-ready hogs had no final home and their value was near zero. Last week marked the 13th consecutive week with positive margins. The Pork Profit Tracker is calculated by Sterling Marketing Inc., Vale, Ore.

Lean carcass prices averaged $117.04 last week, up another $5.56 from the previous week and $16.49 higher than a month ago. The quoted carcass price from a year ago was $39.92 per cwt.

Pork packers lost an average of $26 per hog last week, which represents the highest weekly average loss in the Sterling Marketing database since 1987. The per head losses are $22 more than a week ago. A year ago pork packers made $103 per hog.

Pork packer capacity utilization was estimated at 87.3% compared to 53.6% a year ago. Estimated market hog slaughter last week was 2,387,742 head.

Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects annual cash profit margins for hogs at $35.50 for 2021, and packer profits at $23.45.

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